After skipping the Giro d’Italia, Cunego approaches the Tour de France in a considerably fresher state than he did twelve months ago. His ambitions will be high after an impressive Tour de Suisse, where he finished second overall, just four seconds behind the seemingly evergreen Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack).
Speaking to Cyclingnews last week, Cunego explained that he would test the water in the opening week before deciding on whether his final objective would be a stage victory or a high overall placing.
The 37-year-old Petacchi won two stages and the green jersey twelve months ago, and he lines up at the Tour as one of the few sprinters in the field to have beaten Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) on the big stage.
Petacchi recently outfoxed the Manxman on the opening road stage of the Giro di Parma, and was prominent in support of Michele Scarponi on the slopes of Mount Etna later in the race. His most recent sprint outing was a defeat to the precocious Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) at the Tour de Slovenie.
As usual, Petacchi will be led out by the canny Danilo Hondo. The veteran German lines up in just the fourth Tour of a lengthy career.
Newly-crowned Italian time trial champion Adriano Malori is also included in the Lampre selection. The youngster was lanterne rouge (the last on general classification) twelve months ago and he is enthusiastic about travelling to the Tour as part of an experienced team.
“I’m still young and I have a lot to learn,” Malori told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Alessandro Petacchi, after seeing me in a time trial, told me, ‘You’re good, but you look terrible on a bike.’ He was right, and for that reason I’m always looking to better myself, and look at things like my position.”
Slovenian road champion Grega Bole is also included in the roster, along with Leonardo Bertagnolli and Tour debutante Denys Kostyuk of the Ukraine.
There is no place on the roster for Andrey Kashechkin, however, and he has instead been listed as a reserve.
Lampre-ISD for the Tour de France:
Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita), Grega Bole (Slo), Matteo Bono (Ita), Damiano Cunego (Ita), Danilo Hondo (Ger), Denis Kostyuk (Ukr), David Loosli (Swi), Adriano Malori (Ita), Alessandro Petacchi (Ita).
Reserves: Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) and Dmytro Krivtsov (Ukr).